The Regional Growth Partnership (RGP) has been presented a coveted President’s “E” Award for excellence in export service, recognizing the organization’s achievement in making significant contributions to an increase in U.S. exports.

The award was made at a ceremony May 14 at the Herbert C. Hoover Building of the Department of Commerce.
Paul Zito, vice president of international development at the RGP, accepted the award in D.C., noting the significance for all of Northwest Ohio.

“This is a great honor to be recognized for what we’ve done in helping local companies with pressing export issues and guiding many with export strategies. This demonstrates to businesses this region has the expertise and resources to assist on the international front.”

– Paul Zito, VP International Development of the RGP

In 1961, President Kennedy signed an executive order reviving the World War II “E” symbol of excellence to honor and recognize America’s exporters. The President’s “E” Award (“E-for-Export”), as well as the accompanying “E-Star” Award for export promotion efforts, are the highest honors U.S. exporters and export service providers can receive from the U.S. government.

Winners of the “E” and “E Star” Awards are authorized to fly the blue and white banner, to display the accompanying certificate of commendation, which is signed by the Secretary of Commerce in the name and by the authority of the President, to wear and issue to employees an “E” or “E Star” lapel pin, and to refer to the award in their advertising.

This year was the 63rd anniversary of the “E” Awards ceremony, where a total of 64 U.S. companies and organizations from 32 states were presented with the President’s “E” and “E Star” Awards.

“The Regional Growth Partnership has demonstrated a sustained commitment to export expansion. The "E" Awards Committee recognizes the Regional Growth Partnership’s collaborative work with state and Federal partners to provide exporting resources to Toledo area companies. The quantifiable export growth for companies participating in its Export Success exporter education program was also notable.”

– Gina Raimondo, U.S. Secretary of Commerce

This award closely follows another noteworthy event last October, 2023, with the grand reopening of the U.S. Commercial Service office in Toledo. The U.S. Commercial Service is comprised of trade experts at the U.S. embassies and consulates around the world who help U.S. companies export through various programs such as distributor/customer searches in the country of interest. Toledo had an office for many years, but it closed about 15 years ago.

“Establishing a new U.S. Commercial Service office in Toledo recognizes the strength of the Toledo/Northwest Ohio manufacturing economy and our region’s capacity and skill with export services,” Zito said.

A presentation that October day at One Maritime Plaza included a Certificate of Appreciation for Export Promotion to the RGP, presented by Yuki Fujiyama, director of the Toledo office.

The Regional Growth Partnership is the lead economic development organization serving 17 counties in Northwest Ohio. As a private nonprofit development corporation, the RGP is dedicated to fostering regional, national and international business investment opportunities across the region. The RGP serves as Northwest Ohio’s network partner for JobsOhio. Visit for more information.